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It was a mild spring evening and another busy day was coming to a close at Imperial College Business School. However, just across the street at 58 Princes Gate, prospective MBA students began to file in and excitement was building in anticipation of the Women at Imperial event.

Held in celebration of International Women’s Day 2018 this week, it championed women in business with a keynote speech from Misty Reich, the Careers & Professional Development Service, Global Online MBA student Sarvi Ahmadi and a panel of student and alumni speakers.

The theme of the evening was gender equity and the value of an Imperial MBA. The different speakers spoke on some of the major issues facing gender equity in business today including the lack of female CEOs and the gender pay gap, offering their advice on how women can overcome these barriers.

Gender Equity Group

Don’t compare your hustle to their highlight reel

The highlight of the evening was the keynote speech from Misty Reich. Misty is a business leader with over 20 years’ experience. She now works as a coach CEOs and sits on the Advisory Board for the Weekend MBA.

Misty began her speech sharing some poignant statistics on women in business: 57% of college grads are women but 48% of first-time hires are women. Further, women are 18% less likely to make that next-level promotion. Misty used this as a starting point to demonstrate the internal barriers that are preventing women from excelling in business based on lessons she has learnt on the way to the top.

Her first piece of advice is to stop hyper-analysing. Drawing on personal experience, she said that before women have the chance to raise their hand for the job, they take themselves out of the running for it by over analysing the potential implications on their home/career life.

The second piece of advice is for prospective MBA students. After receiving her MBA from Dallas University, she recommended the MBA because of the confidence, skills and empowerment she gained from it.

My MBA gave me confidence and took some excuses off the table. I spent a lot of years talking about why my lack of finance background is the number one reason why I can’t take the big job. And then I did my MBA and was like – is that all there is? It also helped me build a network of people who were sharing the same concerns that I was sharing, who really wanted to have a family, big career, to travel abroad and weren’t sure how they were going to do it all. We were all in the same boat and that was really empowering for me.

To wrap-up her speech, Misty gave six top tips to current and prospective female MBA students on how to reach their ideal job:

  1. Be clear about your goals. If you want to go for the big job, you need to start saying to yourself not “I think” but “I’m going for the big job”
  2. Don’t decline opportunities based on what you “perceive” to be the challenge, only real challenges count
  3. Don’t leave before you leave. Whether this is about getting married or having babies. Be motivated, energised and don’t try to work things out for the company
  4. Don’t make stereotypes your story. All the stuff you hear about women – that’s not your story. Your story is your story
  5. Take a line job if you want the big job. If you want to run the company, you need to run a piece of the company. Statistically, more directors want people who they have seen run a P&L
  6. Play your best game. Don’t compare your hustle to their highlight reel. Do not compare your internal monologue to someone’s external presentation. It’s not useful and it doesn’t serve you. Focus on playing your best game

Bridging the gender pay gap

The second talk of the evening was by Sarah Ranchev-Hale, Assistant Director of Employer Relations and Andreia Ferreira, Careers Consultant from the Careers & Professional Development Service. They discussed how to bridge the gender pay gap in business.

A major point of the speech highlighted this statistic: women apply to jobs when they have 92-100% of the capabilities, whereas men apply when they have 60% of the capability. They encouraged the women in the room to put themselves forward for top positions and not to be held back by the perception that they are not qualified enough.

Gender Equity Talk

Sarah finished their speech with this thought:

I really feel that an MBA gives you permission to have confidence and believe in yourself.

The MBA has made me feel that I can do anything I want

Another speech of the night came from current Global Online MBA student and Forté Fellow, Sarvi Ahmadi. As a Manager at Capital One, Sarvi manages a team of 14 people in experience design and operations. She decided that an MBA is imperative to take her to an executive level.  She said:

Until I started my MBA, I didn’t have any business knowledge. I knew that for me to really become an executive level at Capital One (a financial institute) I needed to have some high-level understanding of the front areas of the business.

She chose to study her MBA at Imperial because of the university’s global network and focus on entrepreneurship.  Sarvi was first accepted onto to the Full-Time MBA but because she was on a good trajectory at Capital One, she did not want to stop her career at this point.

She met with Global Online MBA programme director Paolo Taticchi and told him about her concerns about studying full-time. Paolo encouraged Sarvi to consider the Global Online MBA and also gave her the confidence she needed to further develop her leadership skills. Sarvi pursued the Global Online MBA which allowed her to continue to work full-time at Capital One, where she recently received a promotion.

This story demonstrates the flexibility that the Global Online MBA gives you to complete your professional and personal commitments from anywhere in the world.

Sarvi’s final remark on the Imperial MBA:

It gives you the power that you can do anything that you want.

To finish off the evening, Sarah chaired a panel with Tatiana Arventi, Full-Time MBA student, Sarvi Ahmadi, Global Online MBA student, Eduardo Aguilar Pelaez, Global Online MBA student, Natalie Pullin, Weekend MBA alumna, Diana Cooper, Executive MBA alumna and Crystal Grant, Director of Admissions. They shared more insights into life at Imperial, how to succeed as a woman in business and how men can be allies to their female colleagues.

Following the speeches, prospective MBA students were given the opportunity to network with students, alumni and the admissions team, over delicious canapés and a glass of champagne.

The event left everyone who attended feeling inspired, energised and ready to take the next step in their career, whether it be studying an MBA or aiming for those top executive roles.

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Nicole Pires

About Nicole Pires

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Nicole is the Content Marketing Manager for Programmes Marketing.